Earthquake-resistant Building Materials for Your Home

A house suffering partial structural collapse after and earthquake.

An earthquake can devastate your life and your home. If you live in an area that is prone to tremors, it may be worthwhile to utilize some earthquake-resistant building materials to minimize damage.

If you are relocating to a house in a quake-prone area, research when the last occurrence was and how frequent they have been in that area over the past decade or so. This will help you determine how dire it is to remodel parts of your home with the correct materials and how quickly this should be done.

Base Isolation Pads

If possible, try to have any new constructions built on base isolation pads. These are most commonly made from lead and rubber, which is sandwiched together with layers of steel and attached between the base and foundation of your house. In the event of an earthquake, the base isolation pads will move from the shaking but because they will absorb most of the vibrations, your home should remain relatively still. Base isolation pads are most commonly found beneath high rise or multi-level buildings.

House Height

Research has found that houses with a single story cope better with the forced shaking a quake will subject the structure to. Multi-level houses can be built to survive, but they will need much more reinforced concrete and they absolutely must be built on base isolation pads.

Structure Materials

There are certain materials you can use for your home’s infrastructure that will withstand earthquake vibrations better than others. Concrete is very good at resisting damage and wood is great for building a good, strong frame in this case.

If your home is built out of wood, you will need to ensure that it is bolted down at the foundations because if it is not, the force from an earthquake can cause it to move. This shifting, even minimal as it might be, can create permanent structural damage.

If your home is built out of concrete, you should try to have the concrete reinforced with either additional concrete slabs or steel.

For any brickwork buildings or structures, such as garages or garden walls, ensure that they are reinforced with concrete slabs as well since this will offer some protection from tremors.

The Roof

Having a structurally sound roof that can survive the force of an earthquake is essential when living in a high-risk area. If your roof can’t make it, it will likely take parts of your house with it. So, overall, it’s best to use lightweight materials. Metal or aluminum roofing is a perfect option that will keep significant weight off of the top of your home, but you might also be able to use some asphalt shingles over plywood that is attached to the roofing frame to give it a little flex.

If you’ve bought a house and it has a heavier roof that suffers any damage before you can replace it, hire a contractor and specifically request that the roof be repaired or reconstructed using one of these materials.

Flexible Hose

Replace solid pipework with flexible hosing wherever possible. Solid piping is rigid and will crack or bend under stress from the force of a quake, but flexible piping will be able to shift with the movement instead, leaving it undamaged. Also, if you install slightly oversized piping, there will rarely be any ruptures of leaks in the aftermath.

Securing Furniture

While this doesn’t pertain to building your house, securing furniture inside will also help with negating any damage your home may sustain during a disaster. Regardless of whether the house is made from a wooden frame or reinforced concrete, the furniture within it will still need to be secured. Place all valuables in a safe, sturdy box with rubber matting between them to prevent damage. Strap heavy furniture such as bookcases and wardrobes to the wall as this will prevent them from falling over, which could destroy the furniture as well as the floor.